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NZ manufacturing sales rise 0.4% in 3rd-qtr, as metal offsets slide in dairy, meat

New Zealand manufacturing sales rose in the third quarter as an increase in output of metal building products offset a decline in volumes for both meat and dairy.

Total manufacturing volumes rose 0.4 percent, seasonally adjusted, in the third quarter, after a 0.6 percent decline three months earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand. Excluding meat and dairy, sales rose 0.9 percent.

The value of manufacturing fell 1.2 percent, driven by a 4.8 percent decline for meat and dairy. Excluding these industries, the value of sales rose 0.4 percent.

The volume of sales for the metal product manufacturing industry rose 5.1 percent in the September quarter, led by fabricated metal products such as structural steel, architectural aluminium and metal roofing, while the value of sales rose 5.1 percent. The data may point to a pickup in demand as home-building expands in Auckland and Christchurch.

By contrast, the volume of sales from meat and dairy manufacturers fell 1.4 percent in the latest three months, following a decline of 1.5 percent in the second quarter. The value of sales fell 4.8 percent, following a 5.9 percent drop three months earlier.

The volume of finished goods stocks fell 3.4 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, driven by a 14 percent drop for meat and dairy products.

"The domestic manufacturing sector has been one of the industries that has benefited from strong construction activity over the past few years," said Jane Turner, economist at ASB. "The outlook for exporters remains a bit more challenging and mixed."

While today's headline numbers were weak, the core manufacturing figures were more robust, particularly once accounting for stocks," she said. "Our preliminary forecast for Q3 GDP growth of 0.8% remains unchanged."

Among other groups, the volume of transport equipment, machinery and equipment manufacturing rose 3.5 percent while petroleum and coal product manufacturing fell 4.5 percent.